This is one of two stair cases leading onto Roberts Bay that Sidney council retroactively approved. The developer of three beachfront homes had built them without prior approval from council (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

This is one of two stair cases leading onto Roberts Bay that Sidney council retroactively approved. The developer of three beachfront homes had built them without prior approval from council (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney councillor predicts developers will take liberties after retroactive approval of beach stairs

Developer built stairs in an environmentally sensitive area without prior approval

A Sidney councillor fears the municipality set a “bad precedent” by approving construction of beach stairs after a developer erected them without prior approval – in an environmentally sensitive area.

Coun. Scott Garnett made that comment after council voted 4-3 to retroactively approve two new sets of beach stairs as part of a beach-front development on Allbay Road. Council also retroactively approved the alteration of an existing set of beach stairs.

The application before council came from local realtor Dan Robbins and affected properties located at 10379, 10389 and 10383 Allbay Rd. overlooking Roberts Bay. Robbins is also one part of the duo re-developing the old fire hall site into a multi-million dollar mixed commercial-residential development.

RELATED: Sidney sells fire hall for $9 million

Garnett said an experienced developer like Robbins should have known better than to build new staircases and alter an existing one without the necessary permits.

“He chose to do it anyways,” said Garnett. “I fully believe they knew the rules, and we are now allowing them to go back and fix what they have done.”

He predicts that developers will see this incident as a signal to take liberties.

Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith and Coun. Peter Wainwright joined Garnett in opposition. Couns. Sara Duncan, Barbara Fallot, Terri O’Keeffe and Chad Rintoul voted in favour of approving the application, which has been the subject of extensive discussions around questions of process, environmental protection, and even economic justice stretching across several meetings of regular council and committees of the whole.

Council’s approval sees Robbins forfeit a $10,000 portion of his landscape deposit with the money going towards environmental enhancements in the Roberts Bay Environmentally Sensitive Area, within which the three properties fall.

But Wainwright suggests that this figure is too small of price to pay.

“On three waterfront homes, $10,000 is peanuts, and really does not seem like an adequate penalty for an experienced developer ignoring our process,” he said.

By way of context, Robbins’ real estate business currently lists two properties on Allbay Road near the proposed development. The one located at 10382 Allbay Rd. advertises for $1.199 million, the other located at 10386 Allbay Rd. advertises for $1.7 million.

A formal motion to increase the forfeiture to $20,000 had failed earlier during committee of the whole last month.

The public heard at the time that staff had initially proposed a forfeiture in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 and that Sidney lacks the authority to withhold a “significant amount” of the deposit, according to the chief administrative officer Randy Humble, who said that figure of $10,000 emerged as a “compromise” between the applicant and staff.

Sidney could have forced the applicant to remove the stairs made out of concrete and steel, a process that would have required the applicant to apply and pay for a variety of permits, including an archaeological inspection, as the site is a known archaeological site.

RELATED: Invasive species removed from Roberts Bay Park

The applicant had secured all the necessary permits minus the permits for the stairs prior to building them, prompting suggestions from Garnett that Robbins had deliberately ignored the rules.

“For an experienced developer not to recognize the process, and go ahead and do this, and actually go through all the effort of dealing with the archaeological inspection, but ignoring the town’s process deserves a penalty,” said Wainwright in agreement.

A letter from Robbins dated Oct. 11 acknowledges “responsibility for the oversight in applying” for a second development permit but also repeats earlier claims of unfair treatment in calling the staff recommendation to remove the stairs “socially, environmentally and environmentally irresponsible.”

Garnett, for the record, favoured removal of the stairs.

Robbins’ letter also pointed out that some sort of structure meeting existing landscaping guidelines would have appeared in place of the removed stairs (which meet the definition of a structure rather than landscaping) in calling the proposed removal “non-sensical.”

Speaking in support, O’Keeffe said that the applicant did not have a permit. But she disagreed with Garnett’s claim that the applicant had deliberately disregarded the rules. “I didn’t get the sense that they were trying to wash their hands of this,” she said.

Fallot also pointed out that removing this set of stairs now, then replacing them with stairs made out of permeable material would stress the environment not once, but twice, a point that ultimately prevailed.

Robbins declined to officially comment on Garnett’s charge and the large issue of the stairs.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Victoria for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

(Courtesy Saanich Police Dept.)
Police hope boot search will help find missing Saanich man

Sean Hart is known to walk for miles, with or without his boots

A Colwood couple has set up over 140 Christmas inflatable decorations around their property at 555 Girdou Rd. The home is lit with Christmas music playing from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Colwood house decorated to the nines with Christmas inflatables

Display on Girou Road open to spectators from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday

Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. (Don Descoteau/News Staff) 
Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. But thanks to a new program from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, many downtown businesses will soon be able to provide free delivery for customers across the region. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Downtown Victoria businesses offered free delivery for regional customers

DVBA launches ‘Downtown Delivers’ program Dec. 7

Saanich police reported a crash on the Pat Bay Highway near Haliburton Road impacting southbound traffic Friday afternoon. (Google Maps)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway clear following two-vehicle crash

Two drivers were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

The opening day on Mount Washington this year was Dec. 4. Screenshot
Mount Washington opens on time, COVID-19 protocols in place

“We’re super excited - it’s been six months in the planning.”

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

Most Read